Two items on two books that are just coming out right now: Good magazine has a brief item on the book version of Frank Jacobs’s Strange Maps, and the Washington Post reviews Toby Lester’s book on the Waldseemüller map, The Fourth Part of the World.
Much of the reaction to Google Maps Navigation for Android devices (previously) focuses on its impact on the GPS industry. The Washington Post’s Rob Pegoraro sees the Google Maps Navigation announcement in the context of whether Google is becoming the next Microsoft. Lauren Weinstein argues that this doesn’t mean the end of standalone GPS units (via Slashdot). Maybe they shouldn’t worry: Gizmodo actually reviews the product and finds that it’s “far from perfect” and has some “surprisingly bad” points — but it’s free. “Still,” says Wilson Rothman,
if this was built in to the iPhone’s Google Maps, or offered as a free download at the App Store, damn would it steal customers like a mofo. You might still see the occasional sale of a Navigon or a CoPilot, because of particular necessary features and because of the onboard map databases (which people who go off-grid prefer), but really, this thing would — and probably will — swallow the GPS app market alive.
On a more productive note — i.e., not spending time trying to figure out which company will get fucked over the most by Google’s announcement — O’Reilly’s Brady Forrest has some interesting thoughts on what happens when you mix all the data available through Google Maps with turn-by-turn navigation.
Compared to the previous Enceladus map released in December 2008 (see PIA11145), the new map features better resolution in several areas, including the equatorial region between 30 degrees north and south latitude and a region between 30 degrees and 150 degrees west longitude. That mosaic and this one were shifted by 3.5 degrees to the west, compared to 2006 versions, to be consistent with the International Astronomical Union longitude definition for Enceladus.
Previously: The Dione Atlas.
MapQuest has improved the look of its maps — and to my eyes, at least, it certainly is an improvement. Meanwhile, Adam DuVander is impressed with MapQuest’s developer tools: “It’s now a platform worth considering, right along with Google and Yahoo.” Don’t look so surprised. Okay, maybe you can. Via James.
Weetabix is in a spot of trouble: its boxes and website have a map of the U.K. that omits the not-insignificant Welsh island of Anglesey (Ynys Môn), and island residents are unhappy about it, in the manner typical of people who feel slighted when their area is left off the map. Weetabix’s response is surprisingly sensible, calling the map “an artist’s impression and not an exact replica of a map of the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.” Because, really: who uses a cereal box to make their way around? Via All Points Blog.
Google announced Google Maps Navigation for Android 2.0 today — turn-by-turn navigation for Google Maps running on Android smartphones, using the phones’ Internet connection to fetch up-to-date map, direction and traffic data. Also satellite imagery and Street View. Also, it’s free, thanks to the fact that Google owns its own street data in the U.S., no longer relying on Tele Atlas; its terms of service with the mapping providers prevented them from doing something like this before.
James Fee bemoans the development, likening Google to Microsoft with this move, which is hard to interpret as anything but a shot across the bow of car navigation system makers. “The Walmartization of technology continues. Why pay for anything if Google will eventually give it away free?” (You make that seem like a bad thing, James.) He also points out that it’s U.S.-only (because of Google’s data) and Android-only: while, as James says, no one owns an Android phone, what do you think is going to happen to all the hundred-dollar navigation apps on the iPhone if its next iteration of Google Maps comes with free navigation? Because I wouldn’t bet against that happening.
John Gruber: “Methinks the end is near for expensive dedicated GPS systems.”
Erin Jang: “This was my present to my nephew for his 3rd birthday. He loves, loves, loves the subway so my sister asked me if I could make a custom map with all the places that mean something to him on the poster. The final poster size was 24x18".” More views here. Via Kottke. Erin Jang is a graphic designer and illustrator; here’s her website.
A Chinese expedition is set to produce the first land cover map of Antarctica by the end of this year, Xinhua reports. “The map, with the application of high resolution remote sensing technology, will for the first time in the history show the distribution of key features on the continent, including sea ice, snow, blue ice, rocks, soil marshes, lakes and ice crevasse.” They’re also making use of U.S. Landsat imagery. When did China start getting interested in Antarctica? Via Spatial Sustain.
I had thought that all the books about Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 map of the world — you know, the one that first named “America” — would have come and gone with the 2007 quincentennial of the map, but I’d forgotten about Toby Lester’s book, The Fourth Part of the World: The Race to the Ends of the Earth, and the Epic Story of the Map That Gave America Its Name, which comes out next week. More information about the book is available on the author’s eponymous website.
Lester has been busy promoting his new book: his Boston Globe article explores how Waldseemüller’s map influenced Copernicus’s cosmological thinking (via Catholicgauze). He’ll also appear at the Library of Congress’s Mary Pickford Theater in Washington on November 5 at noon, and at the Newberry Library in Chicago on November 19 at 6 PM (via MapHist).
Here I had thought the opportunity to read up on Waldseemüller had come and gone. Maybe I should order a batch of books to read and review collectively.
Previously: Waldseemüller Symposium at LOC in May; The Washington Post on Waldseemüller; Which Waldseemüller?; Waldseemüller Map Exhibit Opens Thursday; Upcoming Books on Waldseemüller; More About Waldseemüller; Waldseemüller Map Formally Transferred; Waldseemüller Map Stamp Issued; Encasing Waldseemüller’s Map; Waldseemüller’s Map Goes for £545,600; Auction of First Map of the New World.
The Reverse Geocache Puzzle is a fiendish bit of fun: a locked box that only opens at a given location, and only gives the distance to that location — forcing the user to triangulate it over repeated attempts. Oh, and there are only 50 attempts allowed. Not only is it (apparently) real, but Mikal also goes on to explain how he built it. Thanks to Richard for the tip.
An exhibition of 16th- and 17th-century Ottoman maps is taking place right now at Cal State San Bernadino’s Anthropology Museum. The Katip Çelebi Ottoman Map and Cultural Exhibition features cartographic works by Çelebi and Piri Reis (whom you may have heard of), and runs until October 31. The touring exhibition will also make appearances in Washington, Chicago, New York and Paris. More from the L.A. Times’s Culture Monster and the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
Issue 64 of Cartographic Perspectives, the journal of the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS), is available online (PDF) as a test of a potential move to an all-digital, open-source publication. (It’s also a very interesting read on its own merits.) Not to say that Cartographic Perspectives has had no online presence before: back issues, from the beginning to the fall of 2007, are also available in PDF format. Via Cartogrammar and Maps-L.
Previously: Cartographic Perspectives: Maps and Art.
The Guardian reports on the British government’s release of an interactive map that shows the impact of a four-degree rise in average global temperatures. “It shows that the rise will not evenly be spread across the globe, with temperature rises much larger than 4C in high latitudes such as the Arctic. Because the sea warms more slowly, average land temperature will increase by 5.5C, which scientists said would shrink agricultural yields for all major cereal crops on all major regions of production.”
The Pew Research Center has an interactive map showing marriage and divorce rates in each state of the U.S. Via Boing Boing.
The Portland Press Herald covers the reopening, after two years, of the University of Southern Maine’s Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education in their new facilities. Via MapHist.
Previously: Osher Map Library Grand Reopening.
The online version of the International Diabetes Federation’s Diabetes Atlas, the fourth edition of which was released this month, shows country-by-country data on the incidence of, deaths attributable to, and costs associated with diabetes. Via Glenn.
An interesting data point: a recent survey found that 31 percent of North American adults own some kind of GPS — whether a portable unit, built-in car navigation, or GPS-equipped cellphone. Cellphone GPS use is growing a lot faster than PND use. Via All Points Blog.
In Directions magazine, GeoSpatial Experts president Rick Bobbitt writes about the camera options for geotagging photos. Interestingly, and appropriate to an industry publication like Directions, he divides users into three groups: GIS professionals, non-GIS business professionals, and recreational photographers. Most of what I’ve seen about geotagging has been at the consumer/recreational end of things; but, apart from pro needs like differential correction, it’s possible to use the same gear in each category.
Google is soliciting locations (i.e., trails, campuses, malls and so forth) in the U.S. to send its Street View tricycle; suggestions can be submitted here. A previous solicitation in the U.K. (which I saw but did not blog) received 10,000 nominations.
Previously: Google Adding Trails to Street View.
Britain’s National Archives has launched a collection of early modern maps of Ireland; the more than 60 maps date from the late 16th to early 17th century, a period during which England was colonizing Ireland. “Attractive and colourful, these maps include the famous 1567 map of Hibernia by John Goghe, and are normally held in our safe room. But now, as a result of our digitisation programme, these valuable treasures are accessible to millions globally,” writes the Archives’ Rose Mitchell. Accessible, but not free: it’ll cost you a few quid to download a PDF.
Argentina had been conspicuous by its absence from Google Maps (most other South American countries had at least some mapping data; Argentina was white space surrounded by maps), but no longer: Google Maps Argentina launched (in beta, of course) earlier this month. But the first I heard of it was this tweet from the Google Maps Twitter account.
Argentina is one of the countries supported by Google Map Maker, where users can add and edit mapping data.
In the wake of Street View’s Canadian launch, an Ottawa home security expert argues that Google Street View will be a valuable tool for burglars. Not that burglars couldn’t drive up and down the street looking for easy marks prior to this. Of course, the police can also see some advantages of scoping out a street remotely. As can most of us.
The Ordnance Survey has announced a product that will, they say, make it easier to produce maps for people with colour-blindness. For the eight percent of the population unable to distinguish red from green, those colours “appear as shades of grey or brown, making it difficulty to interpret the colour‑coded features shown on maps,” says the OS news release. “The new Ordnance Survey digital mapping has been developed to be customisable, allowing for the creation of colour-blind-friendly styles, which to most people will look very strange but could help avoid future confusion for those with the condition.” The example shown above does look very strange indeed, but hover your mouse over the map and you’ll see how much better it looks if you’re colour-blind. (Can’t mouse over? Here’s the colour-blind image.)
More than just another collection of historic maps! The Centennial Atlas offers 20 historic maps created over four centuries years of New Mexico’s history, annotated with the stories of the people who were there at the time the map was made, illustrations and photographs, audio, links, oral histories, and more. Lesson plans support classroom use of this resource as well as offering a place for students to add their own rich media maps of their community’s history, by uploading KML files. Created by the New Mexico Humanities Council for New Mexico’s upcoming celebration of Statehood in 2012.
The maps are presented as an overlay in Google Maps, with pushpin annotations. Above: Joseph Ramon de Urrutia, Primera parte del Mapa, que comprende la Frontera, de los Dominios del Rey, en la America Septentrional (1771).
Another one of Transport for London’s maps is in trouble: this time, a bicycle-rental map switches the locations of two well-known London museums. TfL says they’ll be fixing the error. Via Londonist.
All Points Blog reports that Google is no longer using Tele Atlas data for the United States (they’re using their own map data instead); GPS Review has more to say. I can say that the maps are unchanged in Canada and are still sourced from Tele Atlas, but reporting map errors is still possible — i.e., error reporting is not solely a function of Google using its own map data.
Google Maps adds error reporting — clicking on “report a problem” at the bottom right of the map opens a dialogue where you can place a pushpin and describe the problem. “Once we’ve received your edit or suggestion we’ll confirm it with other users, data sources, or imagery. We hope to resolve each edit within a month. If you submit your email address, we’ll even keep you posted on our progress,” says Google LatLong. This is a vast improvement: until today, if you found an error on an online map — and I found a bunch of them locally when Google switched its North American mapping data from Navteq to Tele Atlas a year ago — the only thing you could do was report the error to the mapping data provider. This is much handier; I’ve already reported a bunch of the errors I pointed out last year.
Map Addict: A Tale of Obsession, Fudge and the Ordnance Survey
by Mike Parker
Collins, 2009. Hardcover, 330 pp. ISBN 978-0-00-730084-6
It’s very easy for me to like Map Addict — and not just because its author, travel writer Mike Parker, calls The Map Room “one of the finest map blogs on the Internet” on page 324. Which makes it very awkward for me to say nice things about this book (good thing I paid for my copy myself instead of receiving a review copy).
It’s clear from the outset that Parker is a kindred spirit: he opens by confessing to be so obsessed by maps that he nicked Ordnance Survey maps from the local store. From there, he launches into an ADHD-esque romp through one map-related subject after another — from the origins of the Ordnance survey to his dismissal of GPS navigation systems, in a chapter called “Pratnav.” There’s a chapter on borders, exclaves and enclaves — the little niggly bits that mess up otherwise clean lines on a map. There’s also a bit on map use and gender, and another on naughty bits on the map. It’s a bit of an unfocused mess, of sorts, but it’s a fun mess, and Parker’s enthusiasm is both obvious and relentless. I don’t think I’ve ever been so entertained reading a book about maps.
Much of what he covers is familiar territory — in fact, I couldn’t help but feel that I was somehow reading the archives of my own blog in narrative form. If I’ve covered a British topic on The Map Room, it’s almost certainly in Map Addict. Familiar personalities make their appearances: John Bartholomew, Phyllis Pearsall, Mary Spence, Harry Beck, William Roy, Alfred Wainwright. It’s quite britannocentric (I can’t say anglocentric: Wales and Scotland are given their due), above and beyond his excessive, even fetishistic fondness for the Ordnance Survey and his dismissal of the Survey’s French counterpart. If you’re indifferent to the U.K., or maps thereof, you may find Map Addict a little disappointing. The rest of us will have tremendous fun.
Previously: Map Addict.
Google’s Street View has launched in 11 Canadian cities: Calgary, Kitchener and Waterloo, Halifax, Montréal, Ottawa, Québec, Toronto, Vancouver, and Squamish and Whistler (these last two almost certainly for the upcoming Olympics). Equally large cities like Edmonton, London (Ontario), Hamilton and Winnipeg are apparently not yet available. News coverage: CBC News, National Post. See also Google Maps Mania and Google Earth Blog.
Don’t look now, but the Gettysburg National Military Park’s defunct Electric Map may be making a comeback of sorts: the presentation was recorded before the map was dismantled earlier this year, and the Park plans to show it alongside another film (“A New Birth of Freedom”) and let the public decide which they prefer. Via All Points Blog.
Previously: Lights Out for the Electric Map.
On H-HistGeog, Sally Hermansen reviews Mark Monmonier’s Coast Lines: How Mapmakers Frame the World and Chart Environmental Change, which explores the cartographic difficulties in mapping shorelines, which change over time. “Coast Lines is no exception to what we have come to expect from this exceptional scholar: well researched and referenced, captivating and engaging, with detailed stories set in a broader context of understanding, and a balance between scholarly thought and nontechnical writing for a public audience.” Via MapHist.
- Buy Coast Lines at Amazon.com
An update on the Challenger Map, a portion of which is now being used “to familiarize visitors and security officers from other parts of the country with the intricate, geographical contours of the Olympic security zone,” from the Globe and Mail. There does not appear to be much new since we last heard about the map, but it’s good that the map is still getting heard about. Via All Points Blog.
First announced more than a year ago, the book version of Strange Maps, based on the map blog that is far more popular than mine, is set to be published later this month, and it gets a writeup in no less a venue than the New Yorker’s website. Congratulation to the book’s (and blog’s) author, the heretofore anonymous (or at least very coy) Frank Jacobs on the occasion; I look forward to seeing it. Via All Points Blog.
Previously: Blogs into Books.
- Buy Strange Maps at Amazon.com